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Beyond the Basics: Unlocking the Potential of Affidavit of Support, Form I-864

Beyond the Basics Unlocking the Potential of Affidavit of Support, Form I-864

The Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, is a document that U.S. sponsors use to show that they have the financial means to support a family member who is seeking a green card (lawful permanent residence) in the United States. This form is typically filed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents sponsoring their family members, such as spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters.

Key points about Form I-864:

  • Purpose: The main purpose of the I-864 is to demonstrate that the intending immigrant will not become a public charge in the United States and that the sponsoring family member has the financial ability to support them.
  • Who Needs to File: The sponsor (petitioner) must file Form I-864 if they are sponsoring a relative for an immigrant visa or green card. If the main petitioner does not meet the minimum requirements, a joint sponsor can be obtained.
  • Financial Responsibility: By signing the form, the sponsor agrees to provide financial support to the sponsored immigrant and reimburse any government agencies for means-tested public benefits received by the immigrant.
  • Income Requirements: The sponsor must meet certain income requirements to be eligible. If the sponsor’s income alone is not sufficient, they can use the income of household members or assets.
  • Duration of Responsibility: The financial responsibility outlined in the affidavit of support typically lasts until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work, departs the United States permanently, or dies.
  • Submission with Petition: Form I-864 is usually submitted along with the immigrant visa petition (e.g., Form I-130 or Form I-140) filed on behalf of the sponsored family member.

It’s important to note that immigration processes and forms may be subject to updates or changes. Therefore, it’s advisable to check the official website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or consult with an immigration attorney for the most current information and guidance. More information about Form I-864 can be found here.

How to fill out Form I-864 step-by-step

Filling out Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, is a detailed process, and it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you complete Form I-864:

Step 1: Download the Form

  • Obtain the latest version of Form I-864 from the official website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step 2: Read the Instructions

  • Before you start filling out the form, thoroughly read the instructions provided with Form I-864. The instructions provide important guidance on how to complete each section. Detailed step-by-step instructions on completing the Affidavit of Support can be found on this website.

Step 3: Gather Required Documents

  • Collect the necessary supporting documents, such as proof of income, tax returns, W-2s, and any other required evidence.

Step 4: Section 1 – Information About You (the Sponsor)

  • Provide personal information including your full name, address, date of birth, and contact information.

Step 5: Section 2 – Information About the Principal Immigrant

  • Enter the information about the immigrant you are sponsoring, including their full name, relationship to you, and alien registration number (if applicable).

Step 6: Sections 3-5 – Household Size, Income, and Employment

  • Complete these sections to provide details about your household size, income, and employment. Include information about your current job, income, and any additional sources of income or assets.

Step 7: Sections 6-9 – Assets, Sponsor’s Contractual Obligations, and Intending Immigrant’s Information

  • If applicable, provide information about your assets and any contractual obligations. Also, provide details about the intending immigrant’s employment and financial status.

Step 8: Sections 10-12 – Sponsor’s Statement, Contact Information, and Certification

  • Read the statements carefully and sign where required. Include your contact information, and certify that the information provided is true and correct.

Step 9: Submit the Form

  • Once the form is completed, sign it and submit it along with the supporting documents to the appropriate immigration office. Include any required fees.

Step 10: Supporting Documents Checklist

  • Review the checklist of required supporting documents provided in the instructions. Make sure you have included all necessary documents.

Step 11: Keep a Copy

  • Make a copy of the completed form and all supporting documents for your records.

Step 12: Check for Updates

  • Periodically check the USCIS website for any updates or changes to the form and instructions.

It’s highly recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or seek guidance from USCIS if you have any questions or concerns during the process of completing Form I-864. This step-by-step guide is a general overview, and individual circumstances may vary.

Form I-864 documents

Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” is a document required for many family-based and some employment-based immigrants to show that they have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to become a public charge in the United States. The form is typically filed by a sponsor, who is usually a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, on behalf of the intending immigrant.

Here’s a list of documents commonly required to accompany Form I-864:

  • Form I-864: The completed and signed Affidavit of Support form itself.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence: This could be a copy of the sponsor’s U.S. passport, birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, or green card (Form I-551).
  • Proof of Income: The sponsor must demonstrate that their income is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. This can be proven with documents such as:
    • Copies of the sponsor’s federal income tax returns (Form 1040) for the most recent tax year.
    • W-2 forms for the most recent tax year.
    • Pay stubs or employment verification letter from current employer.
    • If self-employed, copies of the sponsor’s business license, tax returns for the most recent tax year, and profit/loss statements.
  • Proof of Assets: If the sponsor’s income is not sufficient, they may use assets to meet the financial requirement. This could include bank statements, property deeds, or statements showing the value of stocks, bonds, or other assets.
  • Proof of Relationship to the Immigrant: Documentation proving the relationship between the sponsor and the immigrant, such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate, or adoption decree (if sponsoring a spouse, child, or adopted child).
  • Supporting Documents for Dependent Household Members: If the sponsor is including dependents in their household size to meet the income requirement, documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or evidence of legal guardianship may be required.
  • Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates: If the sponsor has been previously married, divorce decrees or death certificates may be needed to prove the termination of prior marriages.
  • Translations: If any documents are not in English, translations certified by a competent translator are required.
  • Copy of Form I-864 for the Joint Sponsor (if applicable): If a joint sponsor is being used, a separate Form I-864 from the joint sponsor along with supporting documents is required.

It’s essential to thoroughly review the specific requirements for Form I-864 based on the immigrant category and current USCIS guidelines, as requirements may vary. Additionally, it’s often recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for assistance in completing and submitting these documents accurately.

When Form I-864 must be submitted?

Form I-864 must be submitted in certain immigrant visa or adjustment of status applications when a sponsor is required to provide financial support for the intending immigrant. Here are the common scenarios where Form I-864 is required:

  • Family-Based Immigration: When a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is sponsoring a family member for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status, Form I-864 is typically required. This includes spouses, parents, children (both minor and adult), and siblings.
  • Employment-Based Immigration: In some employment-based immigrant visa categories, Form I-864 may be required if the intending immigrant’s employer or relative is sponsoring them, and the sponsor’s income is necessary to demonstrate financial support.
  • Diversity Visa Lottery Winners: Individuals who win the Diversity Visa Lottery and apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status often need a sponsor to demonstrate financial support using Form I-864.
  • Certain Special Immigrant Categories: Some special immigrant categories, such as certain religious workers, may require Form I-864 as part of the application process.

Form I-864 is submitted along with the immigrant visa application or adjustment of status application. It’s crucial to follow the specific instructions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S. Department of State, depending on where the application is being processed. Failing to submit Form I-864 when required can result in delays or denial of the immigration application.

Who doesn’t need to file Form I-864?

While Form I-864 is a common requirement for many immigrant visa and adjustment of status applications, there are situations where it may not be necessary to file this form. Here are some scenarios where Form I-864 may not be required:

  • Self-Sponsored Immigrants: Immigrants who can demonstrate that they meet the financial requirements without the need for a sponsor generally do not need to file Form I-864. For example, certain employment-based immigrants who have substantial assets or income may not require a sponsor.
  • Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens: Certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, including spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21, may be eligible for adjustment of status based on a different form of financial support, such as the intending immigrant’s own income or assets. However, in practice, Form I-864 is often still required as a precautionary measure.
  • Immigrants with Sufficient Work History: Some immigrants may be able to demonstrate financial self-sufficiency based on their own work history in the United States. In these cases, Form I-864 may not be required.
  • Refugees and Asylees: Refugees and asylees who are adjusting their status to lawful permanent resident status are not required to submit Form I-864. They are instead required to submit Form I-730 if they are being petitioned by a qualifying relative.
  • Certain Special Immigrant Categories: Some special immigrant categories may have different financial support requirements, and Form I-864 may not be necessary for these cases.
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